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Do we need AI to help us maintain our lifestyle?

After my digression about AI that could possibly become a perfect politician, my mind has continued evolving that thought.


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Some time ago I had a digression about how AI (or a derivate) could become a “perfect politician”. After that article I had more thoughts about the topic and I’ve come up with the conclusion that as society evolves rapidly and “socially” as it is evolving in this historical moment, an external aid could be our only chance to survive. And for external aid I’m having on my mind Machine Learning and, perhaps, Big Data too.

Our society, and I am having the “connected” part of the world’s society, is overwhelmed by data. Every day we generate a massive amount of data of our daily life. Every single day (sorry for the strong term) average’s people mind is affected by more social media generated information. People’s way of thinking is affected by social networks more than ever, even terrorism is using social media online to spread their terror more and more. Common media channels are being manipulated to gather a massive audience in order to bring economic returns. All these ingredients mixed together affect the way (average) people think and therefore, it brings a massive subconscious effect: prejudice. Whereas people may say they don’t have prejudice about anything, being it race, age, sex, religion, truth is the media has affected our lives so intensively and in the background of our minds that if we see someone who resembles a Muslim their mind starts to tremble.

Here’s how my digression about AI started making my mind more and more focused on this issue. This “human” issue: driven by emotions, no matter how much an individual thinks he or she is objective about a matter, we’re creatures driven by emotions. To mention an Internet’s meme, “people are composed 90% of water. Technically we’re watermelons with anxiety”.

As I see success stories like IBM’s Watson technology kicking into the market in the past months, or (again) results of machine learning technologies helping out in areas like public security, I’m realizing we actually need such kind of help driven by technology. We need a “non-human” being to help us with our “human” nature.

Let me explain why I am thinking of this.

IBM Watson’s “about” page states that Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Shortly we can say it is a cognitive system that allows people to process massive amounts of data. Earlier this year students at the Georgia Institute of Technology could experience the efficiency of a newly hired teacher’s assistant, Jill Watson (related article by the WSJ can be found here). They could submit queries and receive a detailed answer within minutes. The “funny” part of this employee was “she” was actually a cluster of servers where “Watson” was the tricky keyword. 300 students could submit queries via e-mail and receive a detailed answer to their requests without being forgotten or, like it might happen sometimes, intentionally forgotten because of some sort of prejudice.

There is another application that has been used in Italy at the Italian’s State Police in Milan since around 2007 that is helping local authorities catching criminals that tend to commit serial crimes. This software has become so effective that given a consistent amount of data has developed a predictive analysis that is pretty accurate. The results have shown how serial thefts in local city pharmacies and banks have fallen to as much as 70% in over 3 years. It is able to correlate events based on data introduced into it, and data is evaluated objectively, results are deprived of any kind of prejudice or judgement based on emotions.

As we saw tragic and sad events like those happened in the US (which were – I believe – in all the media worldwide at least once) where people are being judged first of all by prejudice, and only after (if ever) by objective information, the need of someone (or rather something) that can judge events from above, without any kind of emotional influence, is a need that we won’t be able to live without for much longer.